Samsung PN58C7000 Plasma 3D HDTV Page 2
The set’s onboard audio won’t inspire ticker-tape parades, but it’s very listenable for casual use, which puts it clearly above average among the flat panels we’ve tested.
Loaded for Bear
Advanced features today mean source material out of the usual TV, HDTV, DVD, and Blu-ray playbook. And it’s all here. You can consume photos, music, and video material from a USB storage device connected directly to the set. Or you can enjoy similar material from your home network, either wired to the set’s LAN terminal or wirelessly via an optional Samsung LAN adapter connected to the set through one of its two USB ports.
You can also bring in information and entertainment from the Internet. Together with your own Internet connection and router, the Samsung Apps widgets direct you to sites that offer news, weather, sports, and financial information. You can also connect directly to sites that Samsung has partnered with, including YouTube, VUDU, Hulu Plus, Facebook, Twitter, Blockbuster, Pandora, and dozens of others.
Through the Paces
As you can see from the Video Test Bench chart, the 7000 easily passed all of our standard display tests. At no time did I see any video processing artifacts.
I spent some time with the set in 2D before calibration, adjusting only the major video controls to their best settings. The Samsung appeared to have a bit less effective contrast than the Sony BRAVIA XBR-52HX909 parked next to it and driven with the same source. The Sony (LCD, local-dimming LED backlights) had clearly superior blacks. At times, the Samsung’s screen would also go totally black in fades to black between scenes, but not consistently. Not surprisingly, the Samsung’s real black level, while very good, wasn’t quite lights-out black.
The default Cell Light setting of 15 in the Movie mode produced a relatively tepid brightness level. Fortunately, when I increased the Cell Light level to maximum (20), I got the brightness I like to see from a flat-panel display—about 30 foot-lamberts. The default Cell Light setting in the 2D Standard mode is 10. Why would Samsung choose a relatively dim setting as a standard default? Well, a low setting draws less power and makes it easier to achieve ENERGY STAR compliance to satisfy the green meanies. Just sayin’.
When I calibrated the Samsung, it noticeably improved matters. The 7000’s black level and shadow detail still never blew me away. Exposure to local-dimming LCD sets (my resident Pioneer KURO reference and projectors with pristine blacks such as the JVCs) have spoiled me too much for that. Subjectively, the black level and shadow detail were still very good, and our measurements back this up (see HT Labs Measures).
By now, the Sony set had left the building, but I was able to compare the calibrated Samsung’s blacks directly with those from the 50-inch Panasonic VIERA TC-P50VT25 (Home Theater, September 2010). Both sets did a good job with the opening under-deck scenes from Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, but the Panasonic’s blacks were deeper. The bright highlights in these scenes also stood out more clearly against the gloom. The differences were subtle but visible.
On all but the most challenging scenes, the Samsung did a fine job on darker program material. It revealed just as many stars in the opening star field from Stargate: Continuum as the Panasonic, although the blackness of space behind those stars was a shade lighter on the Samsung. The same was true of the black bars on 2.35:1 source material.
In other respects, these two sets were far more alike than different. Both had superb color; the Samsung’s fleshtones were a bit more reddish, but not unnaturally so. On both sets, I had to dial back the Color control a few steps from its theoretically correct position, but that might just be me.
The Edge is an underappreciated survival movie and an impressive Blu-ray transfer. While it offers great performances from Anthony Hopkins, Alec Baldwin, and Bart the Bear, the real stars of the show are the scenic wonders of the Canadian Rockies. They’re stunning, and the Samsung handled everything beautifully, from the green forest foliage to the finest details.